Our Team

Pattern breaking work requires a unique team of brokers, boundary spanners, systems thinkers, collaborators and risk takers. We have built an experienced team that embodies these characteristics. Our Staff has enormous expertise in international development and is well known for innovative thinking, bringing promising practices from diverse disciplines to bear on local development challenges. Root Change staff is passionate about demand driven development that puts control in local hands.

Evan Bloom
Co-Founder and Managing Partner for Innovation

Before founding Root Change, Evan Bloom served as the Vice President for Capacity Building at Pact, Inc. His duties included setting strategic directions for Pact's organizational strengthening initiatives and projects, developing new capacity building technologies and researching new pathways to higher nonprofit performance. During his 13 year tenure at Pact, Evan authored one of the most widely used capacity diagnostic tools in international development, co-founded the Impact Alliance www.impactalliance.org, a global action network committed to strengthening the capacity of individuals and organizations to generate deep impact, and founded the Capacity Building Services Group (CBSG). CBSG was the first and only global nonprofit management consulting and advisory group launched and directed from within a major US international nonprofit development agency, providing organizational capacity building technical assistance and advisory services to local organizations, multi and bilateral agencies, and NGO networks in 28 countries.

Evan has worked in the field of international development and community development for 25 years. He has lived in South Asia and West Africa, and has undertaken numerous assignments abroad in more than 20 countries. Evan has been a consultant to over 50 U.S. PVOs and international NGOs, Southern NGOs, the United Nations, the World Bank, Peace Corps, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Fortune 500 Corporations including Dow Jones and Time, Inc. He teaches innovation and strategic partnering with the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey California.

Claudia Liebler
Co-founder and Managing Partner for Services

Claudia is one of few professionals specializing in positive approaches to change. Working in 30 countries, and across multiple sectors, Claudia has advised USAID Missions, representatives of foreign ministries, bi-lateral bodies, and global and national NGOs on organizational strengthening, network building, multi-sectoral initiatives, partnership development and strategies to build collaboration and coordination. Claudia facilitates the mobilization of vibrant networks, helps organizations create their futures and maximize their impact in the world, and assists communities discover their assets and build a common agenda among diverse stakeholders.

On the staff of Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Management in the Doctoral Department of Organizational Behavior, Claudia conceived and co-directed the Global Excellence in Management (GEM) Initiative, GEM was a university-based program that received a seven-year multimillion dollar grant from US AID to do capacity building with US and International NGOs. The GEM Organizational Excellence Program involved more than 40 NGOs in long term relationships to build organizational capacity and the GEM Certificate Program in Global Change and Social Innovation worked with more than 200 NGO leaders.

More recently, Claudia was the Director of Participatory Training and Facilitation at Pact, a global NGO where she provided both internal and external services to a wide range of organizations and groups. Among many other activities she helped develop an innovative anti-trafficking initiative for Cyprus, led Pact's consultancy with UNDP to up-grade capacity building services in disaster risk reduction and developed an internal initiative to re-design Pact's Program Division. In addition to her work with Root Change, Claudia is also a part-time professor at American University in Washington D.C. and the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.

Her published works include: Positive Approaches to Peacebuilding, NGO Networks: Building Capacity in a Changing World, and Making Interdisciplinary Teams Work: A Guide for Team Leaders and Technical Assistance Managers.

Smriti Lakhey
Chief Operating Officer

As Program Manager at Root Change, Smriti provides guidance and support for achieving programmatic objectives. In her role, Smriti also provides technical leadership on field assignments to build the capacity of civil society organizations and manages new business development initiatives. Smriti has worked for nearly ten years in international development as a practitioner in the field, consultant for national governments and project manager on strategic advisory projects.

Before Root Change, Smriti worked at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) where she focused on developing strategic partnerships with bilateral donors and foundations. At the Malaysia Blue Ocean Strategy Institute - an advisory firm based in Kuala Lumpur, Smriti led strategic consulting projects for the Malaysian government, and designed and monitored implementation of rural development projects. At the World Bank, Smriti worked with state governments of India to design, implement and monitor community-based livelihoods projects that collaborated with women's self-help groups and farmer organizations.

Smriti holds a Master's degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She has lived in South and Southeast Asia, and is fluent in Nepali and Hindi.

Alexis Smart
Senior Technical Officer

Alexis is the technical lead for Root Change's Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) and System for Transformation and Results (STAR) approaches and tools as well as coordinator for new business development. Her passions lie in livelihoods and community development and in applying information technology, participatory methods, and innovative training to strengthen organizations and the ecosystems where they work. Thanks to a range of international and domestic development consultancies, she brings experience in program and project design, management, and evaluation.

Prior to her work with Root Change, Alexis served as promotions director for California Newsreel, a social justice documentary distributor, where she led marketing for their globalization film collection. With Mann Deshi Bank and Foundation in Maharashtra, India Alexis designed and managed a pilot project aimed at growing the businesses of rural women entrepreneurs. As a consultant with ZOA Refugee Care in South Sudan, Alexis provided strategic planning and capacity building support for the microenterprise component of ZOA's food security program.

Alexis holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Skidmore College and a M.S. in Development Management from the School of International Service at American University.

Richard Funkhouser
Ecosystems Analyst

Richard is one of Root Change's technical experts for organizational network analysis (ONA). In addition to his contributions to Root Change capacity building and knowledge management products, Richard designs tools and processes for facilitation. As a designer, he is driven by a desire to understand how we absorb, interpret, and interact with the dynamic systems from and within which we create meaning. Richard brings a uniquely varied set of professional perspectives to ecosystems strengthening and sustainable development.

Before Root Change, Richard worked as a freelance teacher and artist in China, France, and New York City. His time designing culturally appropriate curricula for students at China University of Petroleum (Dongying) and researching, translating, and adapting folklore for theater as a production assistance for the Mettawee River Theater Company continue to inform his work designing learning experiences for capacity building.

Richard earned his B.A. in Asian Languages and Civilizations from Amherst College and his M.A. studying International Policy and Conflict Resolution at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He is conversant in Japanese and fluent in Spanish.

Nate Stephens
Technical Officer

Nate is the lead for Root Change's knowledge exchange and outreach initiatives and provides technical and design support for several Root Change projects. He's driven by a passion for local solutions and ownership and exploring ways to diversify and democratize development work.

Nate has returned to Root Change after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon where he worked to support agribusiness development and youth entrepreneurship in the West Region. He has consulted with several private and public organizations, including the Esalen Institute, the Youth Arts Collective, and PFLAG on stakeholder engagement and strategic thinking. He has also lived and worked throughout Latin America and Africa.

Nate holds a BA in Sociology and Anthropology with a concentration in Educational Studies from Carleton College. He has an MPA with a focus in Development Systems from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. He is professionally fluent in Spanish and French.

Beryl Levinger
Senior Fellow for Capacity Development

As a veteran practitioner with nearly forty years' experience in education and nonprofit management, Dr. Levinger has held many important leadership positions including director of the Center for Organizational Learning and Development (affiliated with Education Development Center), president of AFS Intercultural Programs, and senior vice president of CARE. She is also past vice chair of InterAction, a consortium of more than 150 internationally focused non-governmental organizations based in the US. Her field experience includes ten years in Latin America with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps as well as shorter assignments undertaken in almost eighty countries. She has been a consultant to many major nongovernmental and multilateral organizations including the World Bank, UNICEF, United Nations Development Program, Pan American Health Organization, Save the Children, and the World Food Program. She also served for many years as senior advisor to USAID on matters pertaining to the measurement of NGO capacity, human capacity development policy, and program evaluation. She currently is USAID's principal advisor for evaluation and capacity assessment on a 17-country project designed to address the needs of underserved youth.

Since 1992, Beryl Levinger has held the appointment of Distinguished Professor of Nonprofit Management at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, an independent graduate school located in Monterey, California that is affiliated with Middlebury College. Her academic focus is on the management of international non-governmental organizations, particularly those engaged in sustainable development in low income country settings. Areas of academic expertise related to this focus include community-driven development, educational policy analysis, program evaluation, and capacity-building to strengthen civil society.

Dr. Levinger is co-author of Toward the New School. Published by the Colombian Ministry of Education in 1977, this book created the framework for the widely acclaimed New School model, which has subsequently been replicated in many countries across Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Dr. Levinger has won numerous awards for her work including two special citations from the Peace Corps. In 1998, she was awarded the Martin Foreman Memorial Lecture Prize for her substantial contributions to the field of nutrition and food aid.

Alfredo Ortiz
Senior Technical Advisor

Alfredo Ortiz has over 20 years experience with international development agencies working in strategy formulation and new programming opportunities in Latin America. Alfredo has extensive experience providing technical advisory services in program and methodological design and support for capacity development and learning programs worldwide. While at Pact, an international NGO headquartered in Washington, DC, Alfredo served as Regional Coordinator in Latin America and Country Director for Ecuador.

Alfredo's professional and academic areas of expertise lie in organizational sustainability, human resource development and financial management of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). His work with the Institute for Sustainable Studies (IDS) focuses on the linkages between organizational capacity and programmatic strategy, and NGO impact, with particular emphasis on systemic appreciation of NGOs broader ecosystem including stakeholder needs, demands, roles with other actors, and learning processes necessary for a systemic approach to organizational strategy.

Currently Alfredo can be found at the Monterey Institute of International Studies where he works as an Adjunct Professor while completing his PHD.

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